Stocks Begin Holiday Month Slightly Lower as Taper Fear Returns

Michael Teague  |

Wall Street began the first day of December trading lower, as better-than expected economic data ahead of Friday’s big jobs report had investors wondering once again if a reduction in Federal stimulus spending was in the offing sooner rather than later.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was off by 0.27 percent to 1,800.90, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.48 percent lower at 16,008.77, and the NASDAQ closed out the day at 4,045.26 on a loss of 0.36 percent.

The Institute of Supply Management’s manufacturing index rose to a reading of 57.3 during the month of November for the biggest gain in over two years. Substantial improvement in the key economic indicator led to a new round of fears about the possibility of an earlier date for the Federal Reserve’s anticipated reduction of stimulus spending, fears that are sure to ramp up if Friday’s jobs report from the Department of Labor ends up surpassing expectations as well.

The Dow ended lower under pressure from conglomerate 3M Co. (MMM) , down over 4 percent after an analyst at Morgan Stanley (MS) downgrade the stock from “equal weight” to “underweight”. The Travelers Companies (TRV) and IBM (IBM) were in tow, ending the day 1.9 and 1.2 percent lower respectively.

On the S&P 500, industrial machinery company Ingersoll Rand (IR) ended the day over 22 percent lower subsequent to spinning off their electronic security products subsidiary Allegion.

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Also lower on the benchmark index was Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM) , who finished the day 4 percent lower as precious metals prices took another nose-dive on fears of tapering.

Services companies also fared poorly on the S&P 500, amid speculation that the 2013 holiday shopping season would turn out to be another disappointing one; Urban Outfitters (URBN) and Ross Stores (ROST) both lost over 2 percent by the bell.

On the NASDAQ, tech shares were among the most heavily traded of the day’s losers, with Cisco Systems (CSCO) , Groupon (GRPN) , and Apple Inc. (AAPL) all lower by the end of the regular session.

One of the bright spots in tech on the day was in-flight internet provider Gogo Inc. (GOGO) who saw shares rocket up over 17 percent on news that its services would be incorporated into all of Boeing’s (BA) new 747-400 planes.

In healthcare news, drugmaker Forest Laboratories (FRX) was up almost 10 percent by the bell after announcing cost-cutting measures and the acquisition of marketing rights to Merk & Co.’s (MRK) Saphris treatment.

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